Phil 103 F17: Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 103: Historical Introduction to Philosophy

Fall 2017

CRN 81965 TR 11:10-12:35 Location: SB 212

Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: MTWR 9:00-9:30 and 12:30-1:00; Tuesday 5:00-6:00
Office: SB 311-H
Phone: 619-388-2294

Course Description: This course is an introduction to the issues and problems exemplified in the process of meaningful activity in Western philosophy from the pre-Socratics to the present. Students in this course survey the major philosophers in their historical contexts. Materials may be drawn from classical and contemporary thinkers. Students are encouraged to engage in independent research, analysis and formulation. This course is intended for students pursuing studies in History and Humanities, and anyone interested in the history of philosophy. Associate Degree Credit & transfer to CSU. CSU General Education. IGETC. UC Transfer Course List. 

Course ObjectiveUpon successful completion of the course students will be able to:

  1. Describe the aims, methods, issues and problems associated with philosophy and philosophical activity from a historical perspective.
  2. Identify, define and/or describe the philosophical terminology or nomenclature commonly used to classify positions, methods/approaches associated with a historical approach to philosophy.
  3. Compare and/or explain/contrast basic concepts, principles and theories commonly meaningful to philosophical inquiry in their historical contexts.
  4. Critically evaluate the arguments for theoretical positions related to philosophical activity in historical contexts, such as the positions of Descartes, Kant, Sartre, and Rawls.
  5. Trace the theoretical and practical consequences of concepts, principles, and theories related to the philosophical inquiry in historical contexts.
  6. Critically evaluate their own beliefs in light of significant historical thinkers.

Course Learning Outcomes: Students who complete the course will be able to:

  1. Critical Thinking: Think critically in reading, writing, and/or speaking about the aims, methods, types, and problems of philosophy and philosophical inquiry at an introductory level, with an emphasis on the history of Western philosophy, thereby identifying problems, theses, arguments, evidence and conclusions;
  2. Communication: Write or speak about the aims, methods, types, and problems of philosophy and philosophical inquiry at an introductory level, with an emphasis on the history of Western philosophy, thereby addressing problems, formulating theses, making arguments, analyzing and weighing evidence, and deriving conclusions;
  3. Self-awareness and Interpersonal Skills: Demonstrate an ability to analyze one’s own beliefs/positions in the context of meaningful philosophical inquiry.

Requisites and Advisories: Advisory: ENGL 101 with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent or Assessment Skill Level R6/W6; or ENGL 105 with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent or Assessment Skill Level R6/W6.

Textbooks: There is one text required for the course:

  • Vaughn, Lewis. Living Philosophy. Oxford University Press, 2015. ISBN: 9780199985500 (An e-book is also available)
Reading assignments can be found on the schedule.

Schedule: (topics and important dates included): Homework will be due daily and assignments will be announced in class. Do not be concerned if we fall ahead or behind on this schedule. The most important goal is that everyone understand the concepts and problems. This schedule is subject to change. All changes will be announced in class and posted on the course website. 

Week 1: Introduction

Tuesday, August 22: Introduction, What is Philosophy?

Thursday, August 24: The Pre-Socratics and the Sophists (Chapter 2)

Week 2: The Ancient Greeks

August 29: Pre-Socratics and Sophists Continued
Homework Due: What does Heraclitus think constitutes the fundamental nature of reality? Why does he think that? What does Parmenides think constitutes the fundamental nature of reality? Why does he think that? 

August 31: Socrates (Chapter 3)
Homework Due: Explain one version of Zeno's Paradox. 

Week 3: The Ancient Greeks

September 5: Socrates Continued
Homework Due: What is meant by "Relativism"? What do you think of relativism as a moral theory?

September 7: Plato (Chapter 4)
Homework Due: What is the story Socrates tells about the Oracle at Delphi? What conclusion does he draw from this story? Pages 66-68 in the text. 

Week 4: The Ancient Greeks

September 12: Plato Continued

September 14: Aristotle (Chapter 5)
Homework Due: Explain one criticism of Plato's Theory of Forms.

Week 5: The Ancient Greeks

September 19: Aristotle Continued 
Homework Due: Explain the story of the Ring of Gyges. What do you think you would do if you had such a device?

September 21: Extra Day
Homework Due: How does Plato define justice? Why does he think that the just life is better than a life of injustice? What do you think about this? 

Week 6: Exam

September 26: Review for Exam

September 28: FIRST EXAM

Week 7: Medieval Philosophy

October 3: Aristotle (Chapter 5)

October 5: Aristotle Continued

Week 8: Medieval Philosophy

October 10: Medieval Philosophy (Chapter 8)
Homework Due: Come up with an American virtue. To do this, first identify your conception of the function of an American citizen. Then identify the virtue and the related vices of excess and deficiency. 

October 12: Medieval Philosophy Continued
Homework due: Explain one criticism of Anselm's ontological argument for God's existence. 

Week 9: Modern Philosophy

October 17: Descartes (Chapter 9), Link to Descartes' Meditations

October 19: Descartes Continued
Homework Due: Identify Descartes' three forms of doubt. For each, explain the nature of the doubt, what beliefs are called into question, and which beliefs survive that form of doubt. 

Week 10: Modern Philosophy

October 24: Hobbes to Hume (Chapter 10)
Homework Due: Briefly describe Hobbes' conception of the state of nature. How does he think we can best escape this position?

October 26: Hobbes to Hume Continued
Homework Due: What is Locke's argument against innate ideas? (pages 239-240)

Week 11: Modern Philosophy 

October 31: Hobbes to Hume Continued

November 2: Review for Exam

Week 12: Exam

November 7: EXAM 2

November 9: NO CLASS!!

Week 13: Modern Philosophy

November 14: Kant (Chapter 11)

November 16: Kant Continued

Week 14: Thanksgiving

November 21: NO CLASS!! Thanksgiving

November 23: NO CLASS!! Thanksgiving

Week 15: Existentialism

November 28: Existentialism (Chapter 14)

November 30: In-class peer editing. Bring two copies of a draft of your essay to class. Existentialism Continued

Week 16: Existentialism and Post-Modernism

December 5: Existentialism Continued

December 7: The Contemporary Period (Chapter 17) Final Paper Due

Week 17: Finals

December 12:  Review for Final Exam 

December 14: Final Exam

: Your grade in the course will be based on your performance on the following assignments:

  • 20% Exam 1
  • 20% Exam 2
  • 20% Final Exam
  • 10% Final Paper: Though only worth 10% of your grade in the course, failure to complete this assignment or the associated pre-writing will result in an F on the assignment. More information on this assignment will be provided later in the semester.
  • 10% Homework: This is due at the start of the class for which it is assigned. Late assignments will not be accepted.
  • 20% Pop Quizzes: These will be given at the start of class and will cover the material from previous classes. They cannot be made-up if missed. 
Grade Scale:

    ≥ 90 = A
    ≥ 80 = B
    ≥ 70 = C
    ≥ 60 = D
    < 60 = F

Student Responsibility to Drop/Withdraw
It is the student’s responsibility to drop all classes in which he/she is no longer attending. It is the instructor’s discretion to withdraw a student after the add/drop deadline (September 1) due to excessive absences. Students who remain enrolled in a class beyond the withdrawal deadline, as stated in the class schedule (October 27), will receive an evaluative letter grade in the class.

Attendance: During the first two weeks of class, students will be dropped for any absence. Starting during the third week, students may be dropped for missing two classes. In addition, students who arrive unreasonably late or leave unreasonably early will be marked absent.

Professionalism: It is assumed that students will conduct themselves in a professional manner with a positive attitude. An open mind is one of the most important tools required for success in academia. If a student is negative and feels as is there is nothing of value to be gained by the college experience or this course, he or she will not do well in this course.

Academic Integrity and Conduct: Mesa College students are bound by the Student Code of Conduct, Policy 3100.  In this course, cheating, plagiarism, disruptions of instructional activity, fraud and/or lying will result in, at a minimum, a grade of “F” for the assignment/test with no make up permitted.  Any of these infractions may result in formal disciplinary action by the Dean of Student Affairs as described in the code (as published in the catalog or online).

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Students with disabilities who may need academic accommodations should discuss options with their professors during the first two weeks of class. You should also contact DSPS. DSPS can be found at or they can be contacted by phone at 619-388-2780.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS IN THIS COURSE (Thanks to Professor June Yang):
  1. Be optimistic about your ability to learn from the textbook, the instructor, and each other.
  2. Do all homework and all the readings. The homework will be collected every time, and spot-checked, and the readings will help you understand the course material.
  3. Be prepared to spend time outside of class working on class material, doing readings, homework, preparing for quizzes and exams, etc.
  4. Ask questions if you don't understand something.
  5. Remember that you are gifted with more education and intelligence than many persons on this planet. If you try, you are sure to get it, or at least most of it!
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